When Do People Care About Civil Liberties? When Their Team Doesn't Run the Federal Government, That's When


Never forget!

Ross Douthat had a timely column in yesterday's New York Times on the warped perceptions of "the partisan mind," a concept that non-Republican/Democrat libertarians are all too familiar with. Key passage:

In the 1990s, many Democrats embraced Bill Clinton's wars of choice in the Balkans and accepted his encroachments on civil liberties following the Oklahoma City bombing, while many Republicans tilted noninterventionist and libertarian. If Al Gore had been president on 9/11, this pattern might have persisted, with conservatives resisting the Patriot Act the way they've rallied against the T.S.A.'s Rapiscan technology, and Vice President Joe Lieberman prodding his fellow Democrats in a more Cheney-esque direction on detainee policy.

But because a Republican was president instead, conservative partisans suppressed their libertarian impulses and accepted the logic of an open-ended war on terror, while Democratic partisans took turns accusing the Bush administration of shredding the Constitution.

Now that a Democrat is in the White House, the pendulum is swinging back. In 2006, Gallup asked the public whether the government posed an "immediate threat" to Americans. Only 21 percent of Republicans agreed, versus 57 percent of Democrats. In 2010, they asked again. This time, 21 percent of Democrats said yes, compared with 66 percent of Republicans.

Jesse Walker talked about that Gallup poll last month.


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  1. And Reason’s “team” (the Libertarian Party) will never, ever be in control of any form of government. Thank god 🙂 So I guess you guys won’t have to worry about this paradigm.

    1. It would certainly be entertaining to watch though.

      “Government ends Medicare”
      “Governement ends funding for corpse removal on public streets”
      “Government to sell off corpse filled streets.

      1. Can we sell the corpses too? Medical research and tissue harvesting firms can probably get a lot of use out of them.

      1. mrmagoo? So is the irony intentional or not?

        1. No, he’s right. Thank God there will never be a party in charge that cares about civil liberties.

        2. He’s a troll, and a fairly mediocre one, so I’d say unintentional.

          Also, it’s too bad the congresscrap is named Max Baucus.

          1. BakedDouche – how am I being a troll? Once you ease off your bong rips, you’ll come to realize why the Libertarians have never (nor will ever) be in charge. That’s all I was stating. Else give me an example of when Libertarians were a controlling party at some level of government (in the U.S., they are currently running Somalia)

            1. Keep going, dude. Nothing about roads?

              1. sage, go smoke some more pot and watch some Glenn Beck.

                1. Aw, pot and Beck aren’t in the drinking game rules yet. You sure you got nothing about ROADS?

                  1. Pot probably should be. I don’t think Beck is worth though.


                  3. The Libertarians will never ever ever be in power 🙂

                    Might want to sober up 🙂

                    1. I think mrMagoo is just looking to score some dope and thought this would be a good place to find some.

                    2. Your ideal political situation will probably never come about either. So what?

            2. You’re a douchebag troll because you post on this site under about a dozen different screen names, if not more.

              1. Aw, give him a break. I thought The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island was a masterpiece.

                1. Or maybe that’s the pot talkin’.

                1. Mr. Magoo is not to be trusted…

    2. Hrm, I haven’t seen a lot of evidence that Reason considers the Libertarian Party to be its home team. In fact, Hit & Run seems to be the place to come to talk to mostly libertarians who don’t hang with the L.P.

    3. In order to meet Christmas, Some commodities have been, discount .In addition Buy $ 300 and receive a free glasses or a wallet, as a Christmas gift . welcome all friends to order. Reputation, quality, absolute guarantee. please log in: . so what, move your mouse . dhgsrh,.,.

  2. When Do People Care About Civil Liberties?

    Summary: They never do, actually.

    1. Oh, they’re very concerned when they think they can score points. GO TEAM GO!

      1. That’s the idea I was aiming for. Concern for scoring points != Concern for liberties.

    2. “Who am I supposed to vote for? Am I supposed to vote for the–the Democrat who’s going to blast me in the ass or the Republican who’s blasting my ass?”

      1. epi, I thought you had a no repeat on Always Sunny quotes rule? Suppose not, I am disappointed.

        1. waffles, I am disappoint. There is no rule regarding quotes. There are no rules at all.


      2. I too immediately thought of a Sunny quote when reading this post, but in my case it was Dennis’s response to Dee’s question of, “Are you actually gonna throw away all your convictions for a chance to get laid?”

        His answer? “I don’t really have any convictions.”

  3. “The Women Who Shaped Gore”

  4. Loving your team means never having to say you’re sorry.

    1. But maybe it means firing your coach (assuming you’re a Louisiana-Lafayette kind of Ragin Cajun).

      1. I’m not, but the open secret is that ULaLa is a Division I-AA school that’s been trying to masquerade as a I-A school for a while now…the coach can’t hide that.

        1. Yeah. When Ohio University hands you your ass, that’s pretty obvious.

          1. Words of wisdom: Never underestimate The Mighty MAC

            1. Their stiff preparation against the MAC is the reason that tOSU always does so well against the SEC in bowls.

        2. I love how the LA legislature denied ULaLa’s request to change name to ULA. Also no way can you be a I-AA school with 30K students…

  5. Libertarians care about civil liberties because their team never runs shit.

    1. Or Libertarians never run shit because they care about civil liberties.

      1. Well played, and very poignant.

      2. When it’s election time,
        “If I’m elected I’ll keep your liberties from being slowly and imperceptibly chipped away”
        doesn’t sound as good as
        “If I’m elected I’ll keep you and your children safe from TEH EVUL (Muslims/corporations/immigrants/etc”.


    3. Don’t worry, scrote. There are plenty of ‘tards out there living really kick-ass lives. My first wife was ‘tarded. She’s a pilot now.

  6. Many Democrats voted for the Patriot Act. 9/11 had that effect on most people. As that event became more distant, teams started to become, teams again. Let’s face it, the “enemy” today is a bit of a chimera. Pearl Harbor created much greater violations of individual liberty. The enemy was obvious and few cared about Japanese in internment camps, or military tribunals until the war was over.

    1. True. But the Reps were 99%-1% in the House and 100% in the Senate, while the Dems were 66% in the house and 98% in the Senate. I doubt the Senate would change regardless of President (I think Feingold would have stuck to his guns), but I bet the House would have been 99% Yea for the Dems and 66-75% Nay for the Reps if we had President Gore.

      1. I’m not saying there is no correlation, just that the more serious the event, the more likely impinging on individual liberties will be a bi-partisan affair.

        1. Amen! Praise jesus!

        2. We need a serious event for that?

          Coulda fooled me.

  7. If these precious “civil liberties” you speak of can’t pay their own way then to hell with them.

    1. That’s exactly right. And to show that we really hate the poor, we should also outlaw friends, family, charities, and churches. Or better yet, put a bounty on homeless and old people.

      1. By golly, I’ll vote against any bounty on old people!

        1. We need to verify your signature. What’s your address?

          1. 123 Puddin’ Tame Lane, whippersnapper!

            1. I can wait. You’ll run out of Depends or Ensure at some point.

              1. You know, they still got

                I am jus git whiskey and shotgun shells. I don’t were no depends cause I don’t wear no pants…besides, I think of the smell and the slipperyness as a defensive perimeter.

    2. We don’t pay you enough to be a sub-par troll around here. Kindly piss off until we do.

      1. Just havin fun is all. Not serious. Except that people in wheelchairs should cut their own curbs and not make me pay for them at gunpoint. Rotten paraplegic bastards…

        1. Just because they can’t march to your beat, doesn’t mean you have to hate them.

          1. I guess I’m going to have to stop talking silly.

            1. No dude, you missed the joke.

              1. I am the joke. I’m gonna go lie down.

      2. It really is “interesting” that people come and troll libertarians because of our steadfast belief in the preservation of civil liberties.

        It’s as if we’re not cool because we don’t believe in fucking others over while we sit and laugh.

  8. Gallup asked the public whether the government posed an “immediate threat” to Americans.

    I’m thinking the “immediate” part might skew the results a bit. Other than that, results not surprising.

  9. Joe Lieberman had a Cheney-like policy without winning. What’s interesting is that support for torture still largely comes from the right and opposition still comes from the left. There hasn’t been much a flip there.

    Junk touching aside, the non-libertarian commentators that are more pro-civil liberties still hail from the left (Greenwald and the ACLU types) than the right. Politician-wise, both sides couldn’t care less, especially with Russ Feingold gone.…..86822.html

    1. * Insert the universal Ron Paul exception to politicians being d-bags over civil liberties here.

      1. I’d be willing to bet that Little Paul sits in that same camp.

    2. I am not convinced Feingold cared. He made a meaningless show vote. He knew his vote wasn’t going to change anything. And Feingold certainly doesn’t care about the 1st or 2nd Amendments. And for that reason I have a hard time believing he was that concerned about any of the other amendments. His vote against the Patriot Act was boob bait.

      1. At least he thought someone would appreciate such a show vote.

      2. He tried passing the JUSTICE Act to better protect civil liberties. Feingold ain’t perfect on this stuff, see his views on campaign contributions, but he’s better than every other senator on civil liberties.

        Why should I care about his 2nd Amendment views that much? Our 2nd Amendment rights are doing fine and have been expanded in the last decade. There are tons of senators that care about the 2nd. I’m more concerned about 4th, which has been consistently eroded for decades and whose defenders are few and far between.

        1. I think that Little Paul will prove you wrong. He still has no record, so we can’t put him up there with his dad yet, but I get the impression that he’s a pretty staunch civil libertarian.

    3. Assuming that you don’t count free speech, free association, or the right to bear arms, among others, in that.

      And since “the left” supports Supermax prisons and killing by drone instead of waterboarding, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me. I think that those two policies are worse, and there’s certainly no different than “rounding error.”

  10. Reason only cares about the civil liberty of wetbacks to cheat welfare.


    2. Did they touch your country and rub hot sauce on your butthole?

      1. Just because you like eating shit tacos for lunch everyday doesn’t mean you get to give my country away.

        1. Which country is it that you own? I’ll be sure to stay away.

    3. That’s utter nonsense. We care about the civil liberty of spics, wops, limeys, micks, chinks, nips, slopes, gooks, trailer trash crackers, darkies, krauts and yids to cheat welfare too.

      1. There is no racial bigotry here. I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless.

        1. A Full Metal +1 to this

      2. nips = nipples???
        Who dislikes nipples?

      3. All that and you couldn’t bring yourself to include the word ‘niggers’?

  11. liberty:

    ? ?/?l?b?rti/ Show Spelled[lib-er-tee]
    ?noun, plural -ties.
    1. Quaint, obsolete notion that individuals own their own lives and have an inherent right to make their own life decisions without interference from others.

    Ostensibly the basis for the founding of the United States of America. Although the term is occasionally invoked by political candidates, nothing is actually meant by the term in this usage or it is used to promote the opposite of its original meaning.

    The idea of liberty has fallen out of fashion in recent decades in favor of more fashionable ideas such as collective “ownership” and collective “responsibility”. In this way personal responsibility is avoided, both in political leaders and government employees as well as in the general populace.

    The term is often confused with “democracy” in the minds of citizens. In this way political leaders can develop “pragmatic” policies, both home and abroad while pretending to respect human rights.

    It should be noted that actual respect for liberty would hamstring the government from engaging in these important policies which, everyone knows, is for the good of us all.

    There is still, in this day and age, a relative handful people who foolishly take the idea of liberty seriously and seek to promote it in the world. These extremists are out of the mainstream of modern politics and are considered fringe. As threats to the status quo and to ruling class our leaders have wisely tasked the media with the job of marginalizing these people and making them appear foolish or dangerous, often portraying them as gun toting hillbilly survivalists. Another effective tack is to call them racists whenever they express discontent with government policies. Thankfully, this approach has been wildly successful among the general populace.

    Is it likely the term – liberty – will fade from the lexicon in time, relegated to the graveyard of history where all useless, meaningless and obsolete notions eventually end up. Alternately, it may regain popular usage as politicians adopt to mean precisely the opposite of its original meaning. See “liberal”.

    1. There is still, in this day and age, a relative handful people who foolishly take the idea of liberty seriously and seek to promote it in the world. These extremists are out of the mainstream of modern politics and are considered fringe racists.


  12. His vote against the Patriot Act was boob bait.

    Of course it was. But John Boehner voted against it out of principle.

    1. Oh, I’m sure that Feingold was sincere enough. I disagree with his concept of civil liberties, since it doesn’t extend far enough, but I believe he’s sincere.

      I don’t really see why you’d get upset about that bill, though. Isn’t it just “rounding error,” as people were saying last night? Almost every expansion of the state is, really.

      Sometimes, if a bill is going to pass, then the person who gets an amendement for a sunset clause, or who gets a pilot program to have five airports not use the TSA and let other airports opt out after three years, does have more of a practical effect on liberty than someone who prefers to cast protest votes. Sometimes protest votes are actually a net negative, like Ron Paul on CAFTA, which directly led to extra tariffs on socks to win the vote of Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC).

      If you discount small differences in laws because they’re “rounding errors,” then the vast majority of the time it doesn’t make sense being outraged about the latest government outrage, since it’s just a tiny marginal rounding error compared to the previous one.

  13. Oooh, the Patriot Act. Scary scary scary. You mean govt. run libraries may share your reading list with other govt.-run agencies. Whoda thunk it?

    Of course, no one’s civil liberties are violated with open borders, which Reason advocates. Just sayin’….


      1. Durk-ar-dur!

        1. The law and order, so-con crowd is really showing its head of late, isn’t it.

          I guess that’s what happens when they get back t the reality of having some power again with the opportunity to shit all over everyone.

    2. “Of course, no one’s civil liberties are violated with open borders”

      That is true, but I am not sure how it is relevant to the present discussion.

  14. “But because a Republican was president instead, conservative partisans suppressed their libertarian impulses”

    They certainly get a lot of practice suppressing those libertarian tendencies. It must be second nature to them by now.

  15. Guilty as charged. I liked it when the Republicans were violating my civil liberties because their hands were warmer, softer, and just pure pleasure to the touch. Democrats tend to just rape you and not even give you the directions to the nearest Planned Parenthood/DNC office.

  16. If Gore had been president and 9/11 went down the same way, the Republicans would have been pushing impeachment.

    1. And if Bush were president while this new peek-n-grope TSA shit was instituted, we’d have fucking Molotov cocktails hurled in the streets.

      What’s your fucking point?

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